Dumisa, an eight-year-old dolphin suffering from “general dental abrasion”, has just had root canal treatment, a process that lasted several hours and to which she agreed willingly, with no anaesthesia or constraints of any sort.
The dental surgery took place at Ocean Park in Hong Kong and was carried out by a South African dental surgeon.
The surgery was complex and required several months of preparation, with Dumisa gradually being taught to get used to the dental instruments. One damaged tooth was repaired and 18 others are at various stages of treatment, to improve the bone structure in order to make the root canal treatment easier.
Dentist Dr Cedric Tutt, South Africa’s only European Veterinary Specialist in Dentistry has spent the past 10 years treating the dental problems of wild animals around the world, from panda bears to sea lions. He says that in the past the only solution for Dumisa would have been to pull her teeth, but special dental cement today makes it possible to recreate the bone structure surrounding the root.
“We could never have done this without her cooperation,” says Tutt. She was able to swim freely in her pool throughout the treatment period, thanks to her involvement.